Race of the Week 2017

HRN Original Blog:
Dueling Down The Stretch

Time for Some Florida Fireworks

This time last year I remember the subdued chatter of the bleak feelings that racing fans across the nations held towards 2011 Kentucky Derby. This time last year the Florida Derby yielded a unimpressive winner that has not seen the winners circle since that start. The second place finisher did manage to win the Preakness, but since then, like Dialed In, has not seen the inside of a winner’s circle. The Florida Derby is one of the top Kentucky Derby preps year after year, but last year it yielded only a mediocre result, as did most preps. However, the bleakness of 2011 seems to have given way to a much brighter 2012.
As mentioned above, the Florida Derby is often considered one of the top, most prestigious Kentucky Derby preps along the road to the roses. Over the years it has produced some of the best three year olds in the country, even though the last couple years would be considered “down” years, with the winner of the race never being able to duplicate the effort that won them this race. This year 2012, would seem much different. With a field of nine runners, that includes three stakes winners and several new shooters ready to make a statement, the Florida Derby looks to regain some the luster lost.
Union Rags is the obvious draw in this race. The son of Dixie Union is trained by none other than Michael Matz, who trained the ill-fated Barbaro. Matz has not had another horse worthy of comparison to Barbaro, but in Union Rags he might just have a horse with the potential to do so. The strapping colt put himself on everyone’s radar last year with a jaw dropping performance in the Saratoga Special. He solidified that win with an even more impressive victory in the Champagne Stakes. He was beaten a head in the Breeders Cup Juvenile,his final start at two, but in defeat he gained respect and was widely thought to be much the best in the race. He came into 2012 with more buzz than any other Derby prospect, and added to the hype when he took the Fountain of Youth in what looked like nothing more than an open gallop. He was made the 6/5 favorite, but this race should be far from a walk over.
El Padrino, a son of Pulpit, and trained by the infamous Todd Pletcher, looks to crash what could be Union Rags’ coronation party. Beginning 2012 with an impressive allowance victory, the colt followed that up with a gritty performance in the Risen Star Stakes, where he just nosed out Mark Valeski, after dueling with that one the entire length of the stretch. Being trained by Pletcher, who dominates at Gulfstream, and having two bottom building performances already in him gives El Padrino a slight advantage over Union Rags, who only has one start and wasn’t tested in the least during that run.
The third and final stakes winner in the field is Reveron. The Songandaprayer colt demonstrated grit and talent when he took the Gulfstream Park Derby earlier in the year. However, one might feel he is a toss based on the fact that the runner up in that race has finished out of the money in his last two outings. Those who point to that should be reminded that Casual Trick also flipped his pallet in both of those races. Also, in the Sam F. Davis, Reveron’s last start, if one watches the race thoroughly they will realize that the colt ran an encouraging race. He was caught very wide on the first turn and went wide on the second turn as well. Despite losing ground he continued to battle down the lane, but understandable did tire to third. Here he looks for redemption and I see no reason to believe he is not capable.
The two wise guy horses in the Florida Derby would be News Pending and Take Charge Indy.  The latter of the two was slated for the Tampa Bay Derby but opted out when the post position drawn didn’t go in his favor. He hasn’t run since running a bang up second to El Padrino in the Gulfstream allowance, however that race was in the mud, and one has to wonder if Take Charge Indy can duplicate that performance over a dry track. My feelings are similar towards News Pending. The colt’s only win was over the turf in a maiden. He did run impressively, when second to Union Rags, but was that just a freak performance?
As a handicapper, I see this race being between Union Rags and El Padrion. I know a lot of handicappers looking for a longshot play will be taking either Take Charge Indy or News Pending, but I’ll pass on them and take Reveron. He is a classy colt, has never run out of the money, always runs a good race and I see no reason to think he won’t this Saturday. With that said, I say good luck to all my fellow bloggers, handicappers, and fans. Let’s hope we see some fireworks.
See where they all rank in HRN's Kentucky Derby 2012 Contenders! 


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Older Comments about Time for Some Florida Fireworks...

Capper the only problem I have with his race is that it was run in the slop. He did run a winning race, but with his record over a dry track, I can't help but be skeptical. If that race had been over a dry track he would be right there with Reveron for me.
Take Charge Indy probably in a now or never situation after passing on Tampa so he needs to/has to come up big. UR=Take Charge Indy .
Its going to be tough to defeat Union Rags & El Padrino, but don't forget that Take Charge Indy ran a winning race when 2nd to El Padrino and will be laying it all on the line as he needs this race to get enough earnings to make the race, whereas the other 2 are safely in the field.
I would love to see Union Rags do well in his career thus shining the light on much deserving trainer. I personally feel he has a chance if he maintains his health to win the triple, no easy task considering how many good 3yos there are this year.
I want Union Rags to win. What's wrong with having a few more heroes? I'd like the best horses to not fall victim to distance limitations. It will make for a much better Derby and Triple Crown.
Go Rags go! Love this horse!
lets roll rags
Go Rl Padrino
pulling for El Padrino
Pulling for Union Rags!
El Padrino a son of Pulpit...
I think Union Rags is ready for a MONSTER performance. If he is 1-5 then I don't bet and enjoy a great Derby prep race.
That was exactly my line of thinking, DeadHeat. For the most part, the field is not very deep, but Union Rags, El Padrino, and Reveron look really good to me. I'll go ahead and say that they'll finish 1-2-3.
Florida, we always seem to like the same ones, only this time I didn't even know you liked Reveron beforehand lol. He seems to be the most proven out of the three longshots, never out of the top three also helps inspire confidence. Though, I don't think anyone is getting to Union Rags.
Great minds think alike! You and I have the same Top 3 for the Florida Derby. And at odds of 12-1 on the morning line, I'll happily take Reveron in my trifecta.
If Union Rags is 1-5, as I fear he will be, it's hard not to look at El Padrino at 3-1, or perhaps News Pending at 15-1 in the Florida Derby.

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Meet Laura Pugh

Laura Pugh got her first taste of Thoroughbred Racing when she watched War Emblem take the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes in 2001. After that point, she fell in love with the sport, reading every piece of news and information she could get her fingertips on.

Laura has a long history with horses in general, taking her first ride on her fifth birthday, with her first official riding lesson when she was eight years old. Both years she attended college she joined her school’s equestrian team, first at the now closed Virginia Intermont College, then again at Delaware State University. Unfortunately, after back and shoulder injuries, she had to hang up her saddle. 

In 2010 Laura came to Horse Racing Nation, but soon branched out to other media outlets, such as Lady and the Track, TwinSpires.com, and USRacing. She currently works at a local newspaper as a community reporter, while making a return to Horse Racing Nation, where she will once again feature her opinionated columns on the latest in horse racing. 

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